The summer of the quirky turkeys in downtown Lebanon was capped off with an award ceremony on Friday, Aug. 31, in Strawberry Plaza.

Mayor Paul Aziz won the Best in Pageant award for his entry, which was sponsored by Briese Custom Concrete. More than 250 people voted for their favorite turkey and Aziz’ entry was the runaway winner.

City manager Gary Marks said the display met every expectation of the Lebanon Arts Commission, which put the project together.

“It’s been a fabulous event for the city and downtown,” Marks said. “We’ve had great reviews and businesses were happy with the number of people that were brought downtown to look at the turkeys.”

Other awards were given out in addition to the popular vote.

Colleen Becker (entry sponsored by Heather McDaniel) won the Quirkiest award.

Keith Kutch and Julia Fluker (sponsored by Modern Forest) won the Most Interesting/Unusual Medium for their entry of the T-Rex turkey.

Summer Mustoe (sponsored by Consumers Power) won Most Realistic. And Laura Lange (sponsored by Lori McNulty) won for the Most Creative entry for her turkey with the license plate fan tail.

Mustoe said she chose to create a realistic turkey because that is her primary artistic style, realistic painting. She studied photographs of turkeys to make sure she got as many of the details correct as possible. Using acrylic paint, she painted each feather individually and then outlined them to make them stand out.

“I shouldn’t have done it,” Mustoe said of the realistic approach. “It was annoying trying to be meticulous about it.”

She estimated that she spent over 40 hours painting her turkey and creating the wooden tail.

But the end result is undoubtedly impressive, with the green and gold feathers perfectly in place, and the result was rewarded by the judges.

Becker took a different approach. She based her design on some interesting experiences she has had with turkeys. She recalled going on trip to southern Arizona and stopping in at a place operated by “a crazy bird lady.”

It was getting late in the day and the woman started gobbling to call in her turkeys. They waddled in and went to their respective trees, making a tremendous amount of noise as they worked their way to their nests.

“It was the loudest, funniest thing I’d ever seen,” Becker said.

Becker now lives in Brownsville and her backyard hosts wild turkeys who make similar sounds every night. She incorporated this idea into her design, using metal work to create the look of a platform for a nesting turkey.

“I retired recently so I started doing little craft stuff, but I’ve started doing metal work,” Becker said.

She also wrote a poem, which she included in her design.

Both Becker and Mustoe said they would create entries next year if the event returns, although Mustoe said she would choose a different style.

“I think they need to do it every year. It was a lot of fun and I hope they do it again,” Becker said.

Marks said it is possible the event could return or the Arts Commission could choose a different project in its ongoing effort to bring greater visibility to the arts while at the same time promoting Lebanon’s downtown.

There is one final Quirky Turkey event remaining this fall. The turkeys will be auctioned off during the Brewfest Silent Auction on September 29. Proceeds from the auction will be split four ways with a portion going to the Boys & Girls Club, the Linn County Arts Guild Store, the Lebanon Arts Commission and the artist.

The Salem-based Grand Jazz and Swing Band provided the musical entertainment. This was the final week of the summer-long Noon at the Plaza concert series.

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